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Owen dolan park
bronx, NY


New York City Department of Design and Construction


Nathanial Lieberman

A historic turn-of-the-century library on Westchester Square houses the Owen Dolen Golden Age Center.  Given the growing numbers in the elderly community in the Southeast Bronx, this two story Italianate structure fails to fully satisfy their requirements.  Therefore, a 2,500 sq. ft. addition containing a multi-purpose room, a kitchen and handicapped toilets has been added to help the center better meet the needs of the community.  A general rehabilitation of both floors of the existing building and a redesign of the triangular site and its small park have also been executed.
The initial design had three primary goals; to preserve the context and the turn- of-the-century building, to retain the existing park and its public access and to provide a small portion of the outdoor space exclusively for elderly activities.  The resulting design, a partially submerged structure, blends the relatively large addition unobtrusively with the existing center without sacrificing each other's autonomy.  The design achieves this by creating a large space below grade, connecting the existing and new and completing the scheme with a landscaped public plaza area above.  The design of the open plaza increases the use of the park surrounding the center by providing built-in seating, tables and a fountain.  The specific needs of the elderly are attended to by a lower semi-private court with protected outdoor seating and gardening areas.
The design integrates the built landscape of old and new while providing the senior citizens with a distinguished centerpiece for their community.  Presently, the redefined center plays a vital role as an integral link to the senior citizen community of the Bronx.  

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